Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a time-limited, problem solving form of psychotherapy.  A lot of research has been completed investigating the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which has been found to be a very effective therapy, particularly for dealing with challenges such as anxiety, sleep and mood problems.  CBT involves talking about your thoughts and feelings and how these relate to the way we behave.  In CBT, the client and psychologist work together to solve problems through changing those thoughts and behaviours that may be contributing to current difficulties.


What happens in a usual session of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

CBT can be quite structured, which means we both set the agenda for the session.  Between-session tasks will also usually be reviewed at the start of each session.  These tasks are set regularly in CBT (both the client and therapist set these tasks together).  This may be in the form of written records or trying out certain behaviours (such as gradually facing a fear).  Working on tasks between sessions is often crucial to CBT.  Completing tasks between sessions is known to predict how effective therapy will be.

CBT is quite collaborative so it helps to have an idea of what you would like to discuss when you come to each session.  Together, the client and psychologist set the agenda for the rest of the session.  The middle of the session is usually spent discussing difficulties that may have arisen over the week and looking at ways of managing these challenges.  Often, specific techniques are used by the therapist in the middle of a session to either manage emotions or negative thoughts more effectively or try out a new way of responding to emotions or thoughts.  In the last part of a CBT session, the psychologist and client review how the session went and the areas covered that day.


How long does treatment (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) take?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is time-limited which means treatment doesn’t tend to last indefinitely.  In CBT it is hoped that significant progress can be made within 6-10 sessions.  This can take longer if longer term problems are being addressed.  In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy the psychologist should check regularly to see if you are happy with the progress you are making.  Towards the end of treatment, sessions become spaced further apart (such as fortnightly).  It is then recommended that clients receive booster sessions a few months after they finish treatment (to prevent the same difficulties from coming back).